Life may seem difficult when you are HIV positive. You may also find it hard to get
into a relationship. Nonetheless, it's important to remember that everybody deserves to be loved whether they are HIV-positive or not.
One should never think that because of their status, they should only date people with the same status.
LEARN TO OPEN UP
Rustenburg-based counsellor Fredah Mithi says, “There are a lot of people who are in happy and safe mixed HIV-status relationships. HIV might change aspects of the relationship here and there but as an HIVnegative partner, you can support
your loved one who is HIV-positive.”
She advises people to disclose their status as soon as they are comfortable with their new partner to avoid problems later in the relationship. It’s best to deal with rejection early
on in the relationship than to give your all to a person for a long period of time, only to be rejected because of your HIV status.
“It's best to be open with the person you are hoping to build a life with. When comfortable enough, tell them about your status,” Fredah says, adding that this way, it won’t hurt too
much if the potential partner decides that the relationship is not for them.
“People also get angry when they are not told sooner and they put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex with you.”
GET TESTED TOGETHER
Fredah says even though you've told your partner about your status, you should still go and be tested together. “You should both test for HIV yearly. This will allow you to take
necessary actions to keep healthy," she points out. “It's also important to test for other STDs often, as these can increase the risks of getting HIV.”
MAKE SURE THEY TAKE ARVS
Encourage your HIV-positive partner to respect and love his or her life enough to take their antiretroviral treatment all the time. “This shows that you are a loving, caring and supportive partner.
Adherence to treatment will lower your loved one's viral load and ensure that they remain healthy. This will also lower the risk of HIV being transmitted to you,” Fredah says.
HAVE SAFE SEX
“Sexual activity that does not involve the exchange of bodily fluids carries no danger for getting HIV,” Fredah says, adding that the virus can be passed onto another person through blood, semen, pre-seminal, vaginal and rectal fluids.
“Correct and consistent use of condoms is very effective in preventing STDs and HIV infection.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT HIV
Fredah says talking to a doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is always worthwhile. PrEP is a pill that an HIV-negative partner can take every day along with other prevention methods, such as using a condom, to protect themselves
Fredah explains that this pill is often recommended to HIV-negative people who are in relationships with HIV-positive partners.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Being there for your HIV-positive partner is encouraged, but Fredah says it can also be draining for you. She adds that its best to find a counsellor to talk to about the virus,
treatment and how it affects your relationship. “This will allow you to both speak about your fears, and how you move foward,” she says.